Cool climate vs Cool climate

I’m a big fan of pinot noir. The elegance, complexity, classiness that this single grape can produce is simply enchanting. Many wine amateurs rave about pinot noir, and I am not an exception. A practical thing I like about pinot noir is that many can be drunk relatively young, and the entry-level wines even upon release. Not having a cellar where I can tuck away a few hundred bottles for the next 10 to 20 years, that helps! Of course I’m not talking about Grand Crus from Burgundy or top pinot noirs from other wine regions, which do need extensive cellaring. But you get the gist… Continue reading “Cool climate vs Cool climate”

Elegance in Etna Rosso

 

I said in my first post that I want to focus on not so well-known grapes and regions, trying to find those hidden gems that many of us are after. I’m not sure to what extent Etna Rosso is still a hidden gem, as these wines from Sicily are attracting more and more attention. But still, they are not that obvious to find, and for most people Etna Rosso is therefore uncharted territory. High time to change that, I daresay!

The reason why Etna Rosso caught my attention is because there is something quite unique about these wines. When I think of Sicily, I think of hot and dry weather! The distance between Sicily and the coast of Tunisia is about 155km. So you would expect full-bodied, sometimes alcoholic wines, reflecting the weather conditions. And such wines can indeed be found there. Think of Nero d’Avola. Well, I can assure you that Etna Rosso wines have very little in common with that style of wine. The illustrious nerello mascalese and nerello cappuccio produce rather elegant, fresh, and sometimes also very structured wines.

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Picture courtesy of Etna Wine Lab

Continue reading “Elegance in Etna Rosso”

Hidden gems in Gaillac

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One of the things I want to write about on this blog are grapes or wine regions that are not well known, but that sometimes harbour hidden gems. Well, here is one of those : Domaine de Brousse. They are based in Gaillac, a French region that is still not very well known. And yet, you can find almost every style of wine here : dry white, rosé and red, with every year also “nouveaux” wines (as in Beaujolais), semi-sparkling wine (“perlé”), sparkling wine “méthode ancestrale” (interrupted fermentation), and sweet white wine. That doesn’t make it any easier to market your wines, of course. Things get even more confusing if you look at the bigger picture : Gaillac is one of many appellations of France’s South-West, where there are many different grapes, resulting in very different styles of wine. And in fact, Gaillac is closer to the Mediterranean than the Atlantic. So much for being part of the South-West… But don’t let that put you off. As I’ve experienced myself, those who dare venture into something new will be rewarded!

I’ve discovered Domaine de Brousse at the wine fair of independent vignerons in Lille, France. I was impressed by their reds. The entry level wine, Origine, is made of Braucol and Duras, two local grapes. The domaine wine is aged in wooden barrels and is made of Braucol and Syrah. Braucol is the name of the grape in Gaillac, but it is to be found in several appellations in the South-West, such as Marcillac, where it is known as Mansois, or in Béarn, under the name Pinenc. And it also known in general as Fer Servadou. Again not simple… For Duras it’s easier : Duras is Duras, and it is also a local grape that can be found in some of the appellations of the South-West. Instead of telling you what literature says about the typical aromas of these grapes, I will let the wines speak for themselves…

Origine 2014 (70% braucol and 30% duras)
Transparent red. Beautiful ripe red fruit, some herbs, very fine and elegant nose. The acidity here is just right, keeping the wine nicely fresh and well-balanced. The tannins are very mild. This wine made me think of the juiciness I often get in Crozes-Hermitages, but two fellow wine freaks with whom I tasted this wine also linked this wine with the freshness of a Cabernet Franc, the lushious fruit of a Beaujolais, or even an Italian wine, because of the acidity. For me, this shows that this wine is not easy to compare to anything else, and really has its own profile. I really like this wine because of the great drinking pleasure it gives, and… because it doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg. I bought this bottle for 7€ at the wine fair. This is not the wine you will find in many wine critics’ lists. Why? Because the appellation is not known, because the winery is not known, and probably also because this is not a “big” wine. And if they had reviewed it, this would have been the kind of wine that disappears in the anonymous ocean of wine scores where people don’t look if it’s not 90 or more. That’s why I find it important to say that this wine gives me great satisfaction.

Domaine de Brousse 2014 (50% braucol and 50% syrah)
on day one I had mostly cherries and a bit of wood. Not bad at all, but it had quite a modern and international feel. I was a bit disappointed actually. On day two the wood had integrated more and the ripe strawberries from the Origine started to show here as well. It’s only on day 3 (!), however, that this wine showed its full potential, displaying cherries, a bit of cassis, ripe strawberries, even minerality reminiscent of certain Beaujolais, and some herbs. Velvety mouthfeel, ripe tannins. Great length also, and the intensity of the fruit in the final is remarkable. I had almost given up, but was very happy to have one glass left of this wine on day three! I will keep my remaining bottles of this one tucked away in a dark corner for a couple of years.

So, if you have a chance to pick up one of these bottles from Domaine de Brousse, do give it a chance. You will see that it pays off to leave the beaten track behind.

Should you drink Burgundy with boeuf bourguignon?

For the impatient : nope. But you might as well…

Before I tell you more about the wines, let’s have a look at the recipe. Boeuf bourguignon is a beef stew made with wine as a basis for the sauce. On Anglosaxon websites you will see that there is no particular preference for the type of wine you use. Julia Child, for example, recommends Beaujolais, St Emilion, Cotes du Rhone or Burgundy. BBC Good Food even suggests “cheap red wine”. According to French recipes, however, you have to make it with Burgundy. And drink it with Burgundy of course, as it is a Burgundian dish after all. But as is the case also with our Belgian beef stew, there are a zillion ways of making it. Personally, I used the recipe of Bernard Loiseau, a French top chef, who died actually just one year before Julia Child. Not of natural causes however… The chef committed suicide  only weeks after Gault and Millau gave him 17/20 instead of the 19/20 that he had earned previously for his creations in La Côte d’Or, his restaurant in Saulieu. Rumours also had it that he was going to lose his third Michelin star. If these events led to his premature death, who will tell… But it sure is a tragic story. Continue reading “Should you drink Burgundy with boeuf bourguignon?”

Faux gras and Jurançon

And off we go with the first food wine pairing… The holiday season is drawing near, so which better way than to kick it off with a classic. Foie gras with apples and sweet wine. I just give it a little twist here… I replaced the foie gras by “faux gras”, a vegetarian alternative for the fat liver of a stuffed goose. I’m not really a vegetarian. Rather flexitarian, or whatever you want to call it. I like vegetables, and nowadays cooks get better and better at making yummie dishes without meat or fish. So my principle is : if I can eat a vegetarian dish that will give me just as much pleasure as a non-vegetarian dish, why not… And that is certaimg_0806inly the case here! Continue reading “Faux gras and Jurançon”

Brave new world

Hi, my name is Olivier, I live and work in Belgium with my beautiful family, being my wife and my son. I was born in what Harry Waugh called the miracle vintage, 1978. I obtained my diploma as sommelier-conseil this year after 3 years of evening classes, and successfully taking the exam at the wine university of Suze-la-Rousse in France. I do not work as a sommelier, nor do I currently have a professional activity in the wine business. I have a passion for wine, however, and that’s why I decided to do the sommelier course. These were three great years. I learned a lot about wine and and I met people who spend just as much time tasting, discussing and reading about wine as I do. Now that the formal learning and studying is over, I want to continue my adventures on the wine trail on this blog. Continue reading “Brave new world”